(Strip Number 1374, Original Publication Date, 24 November 1988)
Panel 1: We can assume that by this point Martha has actually read Michael’s note. She has judged it to be “not a joke” and “like – sincere”. This means that Martha expected it to be a joke and not sincere. She knows Michael pretty well then if “joke” was her first guess. Plus, Michael appears to have grown giant sagging breasts. Not only that but his sweater appears to be a few sizes too large for him and the jagged design has crawled off his neck and is heading down his shoulders.
Panel 2: Michael says, “Yeah, well, I sort of, um, wanted you to have it.” While Lynn is going for “uncertain teen speech”, as we saw two days ago, Michael did actually only “sort of” want Martha to have it. Martha does not know what to say, but Lynn Johnston is doing a pretty good job of drawing Martha in a defensive posture with her arms crossed across her chest. It’s either that or she is horrified thinking about the breasts Michael had in the prior panel and wants to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to her.
Panel 3: Okay. Michael gave her a note and Martha has judged the content to be sincere. What is the natural next step for a boy and girl thinking about starting a relationship? Maybe they want to set up a date where they can spend more time together. Maybe they want to sit together during lunch. Nope. Michael’s first thought is protecting the information in that note. If you are that worried about it Michael, then just ask for the note back. She’s already read it. What does she need to keep it for, especially if you are going to go all paranoid and stalk her to make sure she doesn’t share the note with anyone?
Panel 4: Martha shares the note with her two best friends and why shouldn’t she? She doesn’t know Michael is creeping around that corner to spy on them. Lynn Johnston should have just drawn Michael walking into the situation by accident. I know she likes the shocked, "looking around the corner" visual; but this makes Michael look extra creepy.
Summary: I know that Lynn Johnston is channeling the Colin the paper boy story (see below) that was based on her real life experience, but there is a big difference in a young girl telling an older boy she has a crush on him versus a boy telling a girl his same age that he likes her, when they were already kissing each other and marching around holding hands at summer camp for everyone to see.